Thursday, September 28, 2017

Cue the Rocky Theme Music!

I used to be a pretty avid runner. Currently I'm on a two year hiatus that I keep telling myself will end any day now, but that's another topic for another day. Getting up early on a weekend for a long run requires a certain amount of mental prep. My husband will tell you that when I am training for a race, he is often annoyed at 5am by the sounds of Survivor singing, The Eye of The Tiger. Yup. You heard me. It's my theme music. It makes me feel like I can win the day. I will own that run.

If this blog post could have music attached to it, I would totally play some Eye of The Tiger for you. 

For all of my Dallas area friends, here is a list of local trainings coming straight to you guaranteed to stir up your inner Rocky. Climb those steps, girlfriend! Punch the air. Raise your hands in victory. Get your learn on. 

Suz, Gretchen, and me: a living pitchfork!
(You'll get the joke if you go to the training!)
October 23rd and 24th
Our favorite Texas writing teacher will be hosting a two day workshop at the Richardson Civic Center. You'll receive the two books that I use most on any given week--Fun Size Academic Writing and Grammar Keepers. You'll learn so much, and this training can honestly change the way you think about writing instruction. 

November 15th
Join Barry (also at the Richardson Civic Center) and recapture the joy in teaching writing and help kids succeed on STAAR while still writing with an authentic voice. It sounds like a tall order, but if anyone can do it he can!

This is me as a complete fangirl, standing next
to a VERY tall Jeff Anderson.
October 25th
You will absolutely fall in love with Jeff Anderson and his approach to grammar instruction and the way that he values the writing that kids bring to the table. His invaluable book 10 Things... will anchor the learning for the day, but I'm sure you'll walk away with way more than 10 things!

Dallas friends, if you can make it to any one of these trainings, let me know how it goes! Suz and I will likely be at the October Gretchen conference and we would LOVE to see you! #EyeOfTheTiger

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

All About Editing

Calling all 4th grade friends!!

I know that you are carefully choosing how to spend these last days leading up to the test.  I've recently been reminded about the importance of the editing sections.  The make up half, 50%, 1/2, 16 points out of 32 of the whole test.  Wow!

With that said, I went through the released tests (2013-2016), and categorized the skills assessed and their frequency.  Click here to access this document.  

If you need anything, don't hesitate to let us know!  You are fantastic, and your kids know what they need to know.  I can't wait for them to show off how hard you've all worked!

And in case you needed some additional encouragement...
Image result for teacher before a test meme

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Grammar Foldable By Any Other Name

by Lori

Surely, friends, you and I are alike in that we did not get in this business to repeat ourselves over and over again! The longer I use interactive notebooks, the better I get at doing it, and the more I realize that the notebook allows me to teach concepts REALLY WELL and ONLY ONE TIME! Then, there is no longer an issue of re-teaching the same concept. Instead, I am directing individual kids or small groups back to their notebooks to teach themselves or each other. So liberating...
Get this book! 

In this year's notebook with my 7th graders, I'm most satisfied with my blend of our Curly Classroom Grammar Foldable with Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers. In fact, I like it so much that I'm changing the name. The Grammar Foldable is now THE GRAMMAR KEEPER! Ta-da!

Here's what it looks like.

When I taught SIMPLE SENTENCES, I stayed true to the old Grammar Foldable style. However, I kicked it up a notch and added the notes from LESSONS 69 AND 70 in Grammar Keepers. In the new Grammar Keeper, students learn the structure of a simple sentence and they learn the Psst! Test (to test a complete thought) and the Verb Test (to determine whether or not there's a verb).
Inside of the SIMPLE SENTENCE flap.
Lesson 69 and 70 from Grammar Keepers.
Inside of the COMPOUND SENTENCE flap.
Lesson 71 and 72 from Grammar Keepers.
Moving on to COMPOUND SENTENCES, I taught the outside flaps just like the old Grammar Foldable shows, but I added the notes on the inside flaps from LESSONS 71 AND 72 in Grammar Keepers--joining sentences legally and illegally.

With those 2 flaps and those 4 Grammar Keepers lessons, my students had all of the components necessary to begin wringing out their own sentences. Magic. As a bonus, my kids also have their Sentence Wringer in two places...their Star Chart in the front of their notebook and in their Grammar Keeper. 

To finish the foldable with COMPLEX SENTENCES, I taught the parts of the sentence and used LESSON 75 on AAAWWWUBIFICATION to teach the mechanics of a complex sentence. 

Teaching is fun when you blend strategies in ways that work in your room. Teaching is really fun when those strategies allow kids to direct themselves. I built this foldable with my kids during the first weeks of school, and there is not a single week that has gone by that we have not referenced it. 

Give the GRAMMAR KEEPER a try, and let us know what you think! 

P.S. If you've never seen Gretchen and you don't know the Sentence Wringer and you don't own this book, I'm sure it seemed like I was speaking another language. Get the book. Hold it close to your heart when you plan, and promise you'll think of me. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review It to Win It

ready, set, Suzanne

Things I know about myself:

-I like things that are easy.  (Exhibit A: Google search history -- "easy dessert recipe",
"easy Valentine idea", "easy outfit from Target")
-I like things that are obviously purposeful.  (I'm a Generation Y-er and totally identify with that.  I need to understand the "why" behind something before I'm truly on board.
-I love the dollar store.  (As evidenced by this post, this post, and this post.)

Other things I know to be true- I have a definite threshold for chaos.  Because of this, I have really latched on to Minute to Win It games.  They are specific; they are quick; they are cheap.  Therefore, Minute to Win It games are frequent in the rotation of Big Fun Friday activities.  

This love of all the fun you can have in 60 seconds led me to a skill-specific application for review...Review It to Win It!  

This set uses four quick competitions to review fundamentals in BOTH reading and writing.  (Here's the why: I picked four games and use them twice to keep you from needing a million and one supplies and to preserve instructional time from teaching the rules of 47 games.)  Each game (same set up, same supplies) comes with a lesson plan for a reading specific review and a writing specific review.  Skills targeted are: academic vocabulary, genre, evaluating text evidence, inferring, star points, sentence combining, sentence wringer, and organization in the composition.  Eight lesson plans are included along with student consumables, resources, and manipulatives.   

Get competitive juices flowing and brains thinking with -- Review It to Win It!